By Marc Grossman, OD
Feb. 14, 2018
Recall is the lifeblood of any practice, helping to ensure your appointment slots are booked for weeks or months out, and you have a steady stream of income. If you haven’t made the jump yet to automated recall, there’s no time to waste. Investing in an automated system took our recall success rate from 60 percent to 90 percent. For an added push, I couple the automated system’s contact of patients with personalized phone calls from staff.
Get Them Before They Leave the Office & Use Multiple Confirmations
We make the next appointment at the time of the patient’s current visit, and then remind the patient one month and one week before to confirm by automated text or e-mail, and then we call them two days before the appointment. If we don’t hear from the patient to confirm, we tell them we are taking them off the schedule.
We’ve used an automated system, combined with staff manually calling, for the last six years. I used to have patients self-address a postcard, so they would recognize their own handwriting with their appointment on it. I would mail the postcards four weeks before their appointment. This method had only a 60 percent success rate, as there was no follow-up to it. When I joined a group practice that had moved to automation, and had a larger staff, my recall rate went up to 90 percent.
What’s made the greatest difference to our recall success is the combination of making the next appointment before the patient leaves the office, and then following-up one month, one week and two days before. This system has enabled me to be fully booked 1-3 months out. I have delivered approximately 750 comprehensive exams annually for the last six years, which is the maximum number of full exams appointments I can see given the number of days I work per year, and that I like to keep 1-2 appointment slots open each week for patient emergencies and patients who need to be seen sooner than others.
Patients diagnosed with eye disease are booked ahead to be seen every 3-6 months, based on their needs, while other patients are booked ahead for their annual comprehensive exam.
The cost of our automated recall system is about $3,000 a year, but as a part of a group practice, my cost is only 25 percent of that, which comes to $750 a year for me personally.
That amounts to $15 per week, and approximately $1 per patient recall, as I see 15 patients a week.
If a patient does not confirm, and does not call to cancel, there is a fee of $75 before they can make another appointment.
Better Recall, Better Practice Growth
In addition to adding to your income, successful recall helps you grow your practice. The most important thing for practice success is to retain the patients you have, who then become your best advertising for new patients.
Along with steady income, and growth-fueling patient retention, a successful recall system gives you the advantage of being able to more easily predict your revenue. When you can reliably predict your income, you are able to more easily decide how much you can afford to invest in, whether that’s new technology, or in enhancements to your office.
Explain Medical Eyecare & Make Sure Entire Family is Seen
Many, if not most, people, don’t realize that they should visit the eye doctor annually, even if they don’t require vision correction. At each appointment, I explain to patients the eye diseases I am screening them for, and any ocular diseases, or conditions, I think they may be at risk of developing. Importantly, I also educate patients about why all the members of their family also need to be screened.
I might say: “Everything looks good with your eyes today, and I think you’ll see the improvement with that new prescription for your contacts and glasses. Now, let’s talk about bringing your kids in for an exam. Even children, like your own, who don’t wear glasses, need an annual exam with the eye doctor. Their bodies, including their eyes, are rapidly growing and changing, which means that a child with 20/20 vision this year may not have 20/20 vision next year. And just as I screen your eyes for sight-threatening diseases and conditions, your children’s eyes also need to be annually screened for the same things. Even children can develop eye diseases, and other conditions, requiring medical treatment.”
On top of doing the right thing by ensuring the eye health and vision of my patients, when we book multiple members of a family together it helps with patient flow as they usually all come together. This helps decrease the impact of patients coming late for their appointments.
Marc Grossman, OD, is on the advisory board of Natural Ophthalmics and practices in New Paltz, NY. To learn more, visit www.naturaleyecare.com and www.drgrossman2020.com. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org